North Korea cyber capabilities worry US

North Korea is increasingly using its crypto heists to fund its nuclear weapons program, worried U.S. officials say.


“I’m very concerned about North Korea’s cyber capabilities,” Anne Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said recently during an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). “They use cyber to gain, we estimate, up to a third of [stolen crypto] funds to fund their missile program.”


“That’s a major issue, whether it’s attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges or use of information technology workers in various countries,” Neuberger said.


She added that North Korea’s expansion of its missile testing is a top priority for the U.S., which is taking multiple steps to counter Pyongyang’s cyber threats, including imposing sanctions against criminal groups and seizing stolen digital assets.

Cybersecurity experts are warning against the rapid growth of cryptocurrency theft led by North Korean state-sponsored hackers following a series of heists targeting blockchain firms.

Nick Carlsen, a blockchain analyst at TRM Labs, said cyber-enabled financial crimes, especially those allegedly conducted by North Korea, have accelerated over the past few years as the East Asian country has become more sophisticated in stealing virtual currency.


“The threat landscape right now is as bad as I think it has ever been when it comes to financial theft,” Carlsen said during a webinar hosted by the Center for a New American Security on Monday.


Carlsen was referring to a string of crypto heists this year involving hackers stealing millions of dollars worth of digital assets from blockchain firms.